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May 20

Faith and Experience- Moses and the Jewish elders- Experiencing the presence of God

The Jews Experienced the Power of God

The Jews who were part of the generation that was liberated from Egypt experienced the power of God in ways that few have seen. There have been three periods of intense miraculous signs. The first was the time of the Exodus when God defeated Pharaoh and the gods of Egypt. Later, Elijah and Elisha represented God against the gods of the Canaanites. Finally, there were the miracles at that the first coming of Messiah. There will be one more time of uniquely revealed power at his second coming.

The people who left Egypt with Moses saw the plagues, the parting of the sea, and the inauguration of the covenant at Sinai. When they were at Sinai they heard the voice of God speaking the Ten Commandments from the mountain with its quaking, fiery display. They were frightened and asked that God would only speak to them through Moses. (Exodus 20:1-21)

While Moses was alone with God on the mountain receiving the law, they defected and made an idol, the Golden Calf. They eventually left the mountain but rebelled many times including the failure to go up and take the Promised Land. They feared the Canaanites more than they trusted God. That generation that had experienced so much died in failure in the desert.

The Leaders Experienced the Presence of God

In the middle of the time at Sinai is an often overlooked, remarkable event. God invited Moses to bring some of the leaders with him to the mountain.

Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, and they saw the God of Israel. There was under his feet as it were a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness. And he did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; they beheld God, and ate and drank. (Exodus 24:9-11 ESV)

These leaders had a fellowship meal with the living God.

After this meal, Moses stayed on the mountain to receive the tablets.

The People and Leaders Rebelled

While he was away, these leaders and the people rebelled against God with the Golden Calf and the acts of rebellion culminated with the refusal to take the Promised Land at Kadesh-barnea.

These leaders saw God in an unimaginable way and they still rebelled. They died in the desert.

Even the most amazing experiences do guarantee fidelity to God. The focus must always remain on the God who reaches out to us and saves us.

This post first appeared on Bob Krupp’s blog.

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